Tubolito’s new TPU mountain bike tubes could be the biggest thing to happen to mountain bike tubes since tubeless tires. Unlike traditional bike tire tubes which are made from butyl rubber, Tubolito’s tubes are made from thermoplastic polyurethane, or TPU. The tubes look and feel like a thicker version of a pool float, but most importantly they are much lighter and more compact than traditional bike inner tubes.
To put these weight savings in perspective, QBP’s “Q Super Light” 29er tube weighs 176g and retails for $14.99, which makes it significantly more expensive than a regular weight tube. A Tubolito 29er tube, on the other hand, weighs just 85g. Pricing is still unknown, though based on the prices for traditional lightweight tubes, Tubolito tubes will be priced at a premium.
Of course anyone can make a tube that weighs less, but the question is whether the tube will remain durable. Tubolito claims their tubes “can resist two times higher forces before breakage than standard tubes” and that the tubes are “2 times more elastic,” based on testing. I’m hoping to get my hands on some early samples to do some real world testing to see how durable the tires are, but also to see how they “feel” on the trail compared to regular tubes and tubeless setups.
Standard patch kits will not work on Tubolito tubes, though there will be a special patch kit available from the company that will work with the TPU material.
While many mountain bikers are not running tubes on their bikes these days, most still carry an extra tube for emergency purposes. At the very least, Tubolito promises to lighten our loads and free up some room in our packs.